Iran TerrorismLebanon's Jumblatt wants ban on flights from Iran

Lebanon’s Jumblatt wants ban on flights from Iran

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ImageAFP: A leading member of Lebanon's Western-backed ruling coalition called on Saturday for a ban on flights from Iran to Beirut airport, saying the militant group Hezbollah could be flying in arms from Iran.

ImageBEIRUT (AFP) — A leading member of Lebanon's Western-backed ruling coalition called on Saturday for a ban on flights from Iran to Beirut airport, saying the militant group Hezbollah could be flying in arms from Iran.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt called for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador, Mohammad Reda Shibani, and "a ban on the arrival of Iranian planes to Beirut because, maybe, they carry money and weapons" for Hezbollah.

Jumblatt also demanded, at a news conference, the "sacking of airport security chief" General Wafik Shqeir, over alleged links to the Shiite opposition group.

The official ANI news agency quoted a Hezbollah statement as calling Jumblatt's comments "mad," and accusing him of "stoking the fires of discord" in the politically divided country.

The Druze chief showed reporters what he said was an exchange of mail between Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr and army intelligence services, about the discovery of surveillance cameras near the airport, which is close to Beirut's southern suburbs where Hezbollah has its headquarters.

Jumblatt said that Hezbollah, which is backed Syria and Iran, put the cameras there "to monitor the arrival of Lebanese or foreign leaders, to kidnap or assassinate (people) on the airport road."

He charged that Shqeir allowed the cameras to be placed in the area because of alleged links with Hezbollah.

In its statement Hezbollah called the accusation that the cameras were used to target people a figment of Jumblatt's imagination.

Jumblatt has repeatedly demanded that Hezbollah surrender its weapons in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the disbanding and disarming of all Lebanese militias.

The resolution was brokered in the summer of 2006 to end the 34-day war Israel launched against Lebanon after Hezbollah captured two of its soldiers in a cross-border attack.

Hezbollah, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah is Israel's public enemy number one, says it needs to keep its arms to "resist the constant threat" posed by Israel.

Last week the group briefly detained a French politician who was taking pictures of a mosque along the airport road to ensure he was not an Israeli.

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